Westmont Magazine Risky Business
Before Nick Lassonde ’03 went to work for Versora, a start-up soft-ware company, he received some sober advice: Be prepared to lose half of what you own. “Since all I had was a car, a computer and a PlayStation 2, it seemed like the perfect time in my life to take a risk,” he says. He left a good programming job at Miramar Systems; two Westmont alumni, Jon Walker ’91 and James Folmar ’99, had recruited Nick for an internship at Miramar his first semester at Westmont, and he got a full-time job there after graduating. When Jon left Miramar to establish Versora with Mike Sheffey ’93, Nick joined them in the new venture.
For three years, the team developed data migration software for desktop PCs. Nick drew a small salary; his colleagues lived off their savings. To keep costs down, they purchased only one computer and relied on the machine Nick took with him to college and the laptop he got for Europe Semester. “We were very frugal,” he says. “The enterprise was riskier than I realized.”
Versora achieved some success with two products: one translated PC settings to Linux and the other transferred data from PC to PC. A large corporation came close to purchasing the software but backed out at the last minute. “Next year,” they said. So Versora held on for another 12 months, seeking ways to sell their products and attract other clients. Negotiations resumed a year later, and a sale seemed imminent when it suddenly fell through again. Restructuring killed another prospective purchase by a major company. Early in 2007, Versora started making plans to shut down.
“The technology was good, and we were doing something others weren’t,” Nick says. “We just needed to find a way to market our products.”
At that point a different kind of buyer emerged. Kaseya acquired Versora’s desktop migration technology, retired their software and integrated it into the Kaseya platform. With 100 employees and offices in California, Washington, Texas, Virginia, Ireland and England among other places, the company provides automation software that allows managed service providers to support small business computers remotely. Nick and his partners now work for Kaseya.
Because of his positive experience as an intern, Nick returned to campus this year seeking students to work at Kaseya. The computer science major had just been reestablished when Nick arrived at Westmont, and he appreciated the small classes and the way Professor Kim Kihlstrom respected students and tailored the material for them. “The computer science department is a family,” he says. “I’m where I am today because of Westmont.”
The Santa Barbara Kaseya office is growing with four new employees, including Seth Roby ’03, one of Nick’s college roommates. After three years of scrimping, Nick has bought a new car, a new computer and an XBox 360. Someday, he hopes to be involved with another start-up company. “I have more to lose now,” he says. “But next time I’ll actually know what I’m doing.”